Welcome to the website of the Montreal folkgrass trio Steel Rail. Strong original material, superb three-part harmonies and hot picking have helped Tod Gorr, Ellen Shizgal and Dave Clarke win a loyal fanbase in Central Canada. After almost a decade of living on opposite ends of the continent, the threesome are back together in Quebec, making new acoustic music that reflects the best of the folk, bluegrass and country traditions.

Join our mailing list for the latest news

Previous events


Steel Rail - House Concert

Morin Heights, QC

Great to see you all! 

Thanks to our friends in Kitchener for a great evening of music and companionship on April 8. We had an amazing time at the Registry Theatre, one of our favourite venues, as part of the Old Chestnuts Song Circle series. We were delighted to see Jay Linden, who opened for Steel Rail a decade ago when we last performed in Kitchener. Jay's opening set was short but sweet; his albums sold out before we could get our hands on the latest one.
The Steel Rail part of the Registry gig featured a number of new songs slated for the upcoming SR album as well as a tune or two we played the last time around in KW. A fine time was had by all.
Thanks to everyone who made it happen, including Jack and Lori Cole (that's him on the Registry stage, above) and many friends from the Woods music camp, an extraordinary group of musicians and human beings. What a privilege to connect again.
The night before we reconnected with other friends at a house concert in Toronto chez Eve Goldberg and Ellen Long. The vibe was warm and the company divine. We're grateful to the two E's, who presented us in their first-ever house concert.
We're spending the next while focusing on the next Steel Rail album; details soon.

Ontario countdown 

A week before our three-day Ontario sortie, Tod, Ellen and Dave spent Saturday afternoon honing the set list for our gigs in Kitchener and Toronto. The result: a lot of new material and some Steel Rail chestnuts in honour of our hosts in Kitchener, the Old Chestnuts Song Circle. (Although those of you who are musicians will know that the set list is never really final until about a minute before the show, and even then....) 
Our Toronto house concert Friday, April 7, is sold out (thank you Eve Goldberg and Ellen Long, our hosts). There are still a few tickets left for our Saturday, April 8, show at the Registry Theatre in Kitchener. We're really looking forward to reconnecting with Jack and Lori Cole and our musical friends in KW next weekend.
In the meantime, here is a look at the green-tea-fuelled set list triage process.
Hope to see some of you next weekend in Ontario.

Reconnecting with friends in southern Ontario in April 

We're delighted to be reconnecting with our friends in Kitchener and Toronto in April. We will be performing a house concert in Toronto on April 7, followed by a show at Kitchener's beautiful Registry Theatre on April 8.
Thanks to Jack Cole and friends at the Old Chestnuts Song Circle for inviting us back to Kitchener; you can buy advance tickets for the show here.

We are also pleased to be performing a house concert in west-central Toronto (the King and Roncesvalles area) the night before. We'll post the details about, but tickets for the April 7 house concert are $20, and reservations are necessary. You can reserve by emailing eve@evegoldberg.com.
Hope to see you there!

Warm vibes on a winter night 

Thanks to everyone who braved the icy streets to come to Le Petit Campus in Montreal last night. A good time was had by everyone we spoke with, including Tod, Ellen and Dave, in spite of Tod's wicked cold and a lost tuner (no points for guessing who lost it.)
Special thanks to Matt and Rebecca Large, whose tireless and loving work brings so much great music to Montrealers every year. Don't miss their Wintergreen Christmas fundraiser on Saturday, Dec. 17. Thanks also to Olivier, whose great work at the soundboard made everything sound great.
Tod's sister Trina, who made the trip from Ontario for the show, supplied the photo at the top of this post.
Next step: pre-work on the new Steel Rail album right after Christmas.
Happy holidays, everyone.

Still keeping time ... 

What a nice thing to wake up on concert day to hear the local CBC station playing Steel Rail and mentioning our "Christmas-carol-free" show at Le Petit Campus in Montreal tonight. The song: Still Keeping Time, Ellen's lovely waltz-time tribute to her dance-loving parents. Thanks to Sonali Karnick and CBC for supporting local music.
Hope to see you at tonight's show.

Last pre-concert flashback: 1996 video shoot  

As we ramp up for the Dec. 10 show at Le Petit Campus, some historic music from the Steel Rail songbook is being revived. We're not sure this chestnut will make it onto the set list, but here is a 20-year-old photo of the band, with guest fiddler Alex Kehler, during the video shoot for the song A Thousand Miles of Snow. Once we get the technology figured out, we'll post the video itself, directed by Montreal filmmaker George Hargrave.
In the meantime, here's what Tod, Ellen, Dave and Alex looked like under the lights in 1996.

Flashback before our Dec. 10 show 

The venue Le Petit Campus holds some special memories for Steel Rail. The site of our upcoming Dec. 10 concert is also the place we launched our second album, the Road Less Travelled, 17 years ago, on Nov. 28, 1999. Digging through the files, we found this photograph from August 1999. It became one of our press photos for that period. As you'll note, Tod had more hair and Ellen had less that summer.

From the Steel Rail archives 

As we get ready for our 25th anniversary in 2017, we hauled out a box of Steel Rail clippings, photos, etc. to remind us of all the good times (and make sure we had remembered our anniversary correctly!). Here's one of the early SR gigs from 1992 in Tod's home town of Plevna in Frontenac County, Ontario: Winterlude on Feb. 15, 1992.
It is amazing this lovely hand-made poster made the trip across the country and back to re-emerge a quarter century on.
We'll post more archival material as we dig through the boxes.
Hope to see you at Le Petit Campus in Montreal on Dec. 10!

Dec. 10 concert is an anniversary warmup 

Where does the time go? Next year marks Steel Rail's 25th anniversary, and we're gearing up with a concert at Le Petit Campus in Montreal on Dec. 10.
In honour of the occasion, we'll be playing some SR classics along with new material that is destined for that much-rumoured new album, slated for release sometime during our silver anniversary year.
Will Tod forget some lyrics? Will someone start an old tune in a new (translation: wrong) key? No spoilers, but it promises to be an evening of great music, laughter and friendship. More details soon!

Out of this world 

Dave, Ellen and Tod after the Wintergreen show: Tired but happy

Thanks to everyone who came out for last night's gig at Le Petit Campus -- it was a fun and slightly surreal night, given the party vibe on the Main, thanks to Les Nuits Blanches, Montreal's party-all-night winter festival. The last people to leave the gig, for instance, were ushered out by a tall green alien with bug eyes and a man in a white NASA astronaut suit. Truly.

Never mind the extraterrestres. The earthlings at the show, which was part of Montreal's prestigious Wintergreen Concert Series, gave Tod, Ellen and Dave (all also human the last time we checked) a very warm reception. They seemed pumped about both the Steel Rail chestnuts (Old Forgotten Road, Willow Creek and I'll Fly Away) and the new material that debuted at the show. Some of the most enthusiastic applause went to Ellen's plaintive new song When Are You Coming Home? which she wrote, with musical help from Dave, about his long absence in Western Canada. She dedicated the song to Dave's 80-something mother, who was enjoying the concert from a prime seat near the front (thanks, Matt!). Dave's mom later pronounced the concert a great success, although confessed that she might not be the most objective observer.

Another highlight was Argyle Street, a song about Halifax that was inspired by stories told by a band friend and Haligonian. The song features the lines: "Girls all have their best jeans on / Donna's hair is brown and long/ Charlene with her eyes so green / Prettiest one Evangeline." It was a treat to be able to dedicate the song to the Evangeline in question, even if the details of the barhopping trip to the real-life Argyle Street were a little fuzzy.

Other favourite moments: Dave's instrumental Sorrento and Ellen's beautiful new untitled song, a hymn to the human spirit. (Chorus: "The loving, the leaving, the hurting, the grieving, the light fading fast and the darkness receding..." if you are trying to place it.) And, of course, hearing the audience softly singing along to the chorus of That's How the Summer Slips Away, always a moving phenomenon.

Resolutions for the next concert:
  •     Find a title for Ellen's new song
  •     Get Tod a new pair of lyric-friendly glasses
  •     Play Rain slower and Once in a While faster
In the meantime, our thanks to Matt and Rebecca, whose Hello Darlin' Productions presented last night's concert and whose presence on the Montreal scene helps keep acoustic music thriving in our city. Keep your ears open for news of this year's upcoming Folk sur le Canal festival, also powered by Matt and Rebecca. It takes place June 15 to 19 along the Lachine Canal and is not to be missed.

Not aliens: Just Dave and roadie Dan Sullivan striking the stage after the show